indurad has been founded on the success of an R&D project starting in 2003 at RWTH-Aachen’s Institute of Advanced Mining Technologies (AMT), evaluating suited sensor technologies for the automation of IPCC and other equipment. The research contained benchmarks of laser, radar, RTLS and ultrasonic technology, and it turned out that radar technologies were most suited for these mining applications due to dust and fog, however, they were only available as 1D level gauge radar. indurad consequently developed 2D radar under the iPosition system name and was granted the first IPCC related order in 2008 from one of the world’s larger IPCC system mining company operators RWE Power, which runs more than 15 bucket wheel excavators and 15 spreaders, with single BWEs having a daily capacity of up to 240,000 t of coal or overburden. The systems are spread across three large lignite mines in Germany: Garzweiler, Hambach and Inden.

RWE Power’s Senior Manager of electrical and mechanical maintenance section at Inden mine Wilfried Gau comments: “We started with indurad´s 2D radar on the suspended hopper cars and based on the high availability of the manless-automation mode we have been rolling out the concept on the travelling hopper cars and on the spreader side where we replaced existing laser solutions providing now a better machine availability. Finally, we reduced wear on the machinery as of reducing steering commands of about 20% .”

indurad’s iPosition technology  can be now found worldwide, for example in Chile with a focus on leach pad systems including bridge systems from FAM at BHP Spence or a FAM reclaimer at Codelco’s Radomiro Tomic. Christian González, indurad’s Managing Director in Chile and PLC expert states: “iPosition together with iBelt and iReclaimer support robust control loops on the machines increasing the tonnage rate by more than 15%, besides protecting the machine with 2D iSDR radar crawler collision avoidance.”

One of the latest projects was the implementation on a brand-new thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions (tkIS) Bucket Wheel Excavator (BWE) together with a Mobile Belt Wagon (MBW) and Cable Reel Car (CRC) at Huaneng Coal’s YiminHe coal mine in China. The mine is one of China’s pioneers in using modern IPCC technology and first used indurad´s iPosition technology on a tkIS fully mobile crusher fed by a rope shovel back in 2003 and specified this system based on its good experience for the new YiminHe II project. “In China we installed the world’s most advanced iPosition solution using all three technology layers: 2D iSDR Radar, 3D iRTT RTLS relative local positioning and 3D iSMU GNSS global positioning – it is fault-tolerant with ‘hot spares’ allowing a broken cable or sensor to be replaced in the next shutdown without stopping automation of both transfer points and repairs to be carried out at -30C°” says Dr Reik Winkel, founder of indurad and foremost a Mining Engineer understanding the need for rugged technology.

In Chile, the ore flow at the Chuquicamata Underground project (see dedicated section) on TAKRAF and Metso equipment is also monitored with indura’s advanced radar technology, comprising 50 sensors (a mix of 1D iLDR and 2D iSDR types) on the ore passes, feeders and crushers.

indurad technology use at YiminHe II transfer point showing operator interface with triple technology transfer point automation between BWE and MBW

RWE Power's Inden mine excavator 275 was indurad´s first IPCC automation project with 2D radar and RTLS sensors now being in operation for over 10 years

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indurad’s iTruck autonomous operation development project including full 3D driveability analysis and a talpasolutions IoT on a Bell Equipment articulated dump truck.

indurad has been involved with Bell Equipment in the iTruck development project where an articulated dump truck (ADT) is going to be automated in a European quarry operation. indurad’s Product Manager Mining Autonomy Dr Christian Riedel commented to IM based on several years’ experience with the development and implementation of automated LHDs in Chile: “Bell ADTs are perfectly suited as they are fitted with modern electronics and a drive-by-wire functionality, with an individual vehicle controller firmware developed for indurad to support commanding and automation.”

indurad started working on the project with Bell back in 2018 implementing the ISO21815 EMESRT Level 9 PDS Interface and advanced this in 2019 to full command. The autonomous operation is set for field demos this spring including full 3D driveability analysis with radar in snowy conditions. indurad is scheduled to finish in 2020 a Full Automation Sensor Package with software including multi-vehicle command, driveability analysis and a talpasolutions IoT solution with the start of full production of autonomous Bell ADTs in 2021.

Truck solution on a Bell ADT in a quarry operation utilising sensors on the roof, front and rear

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Deploying the indurad iStockpile solution enables advanced stacker and reclaimer control and overall stockyard automation.

Modern process control systems have contributed significantly to productivity increases within the raw materials industry. Determining stockpile volumes and positions requires multi- dimensional measurements, with slope profiles often scanned two-dimensionally using a machine’s rotation and positioning information. Later, the acquired 3D data can be condensed to a one-dimensional process variable like cubic metres or percentage filling.

But the machines and sensors used to carry out these calculations need to be fit for the job at hand. Carlo Rothschuh, indurad’s Senior Solution Engineer, says ultrasonic sensors such as acoustic solid scanners are slow to update, offer low coverage and are affected by the noise that comes with bulk handling operations.

“While mounted next to the ore stream and water spray on stackers, reclaimers and shiploaders, indurad 3D radar scanners convinced the global iron ore industry of their superior reliability while having an imaging capability comparable to a high-end laser scanner,” he said.

Knowing these issues, Germany-based indurad developed its 360° radar technologies, which have been applied at over 20 iron ore mine sites and ports in Australia, Brazil, Canada and South Africa. Companies focused on other commodities have also favoured indurad’s solutions with installations in Canada’s oil sands, Chile’s copper mines, Russian potash mines and European steel plants.

They also allow for measurements of the volume and volume flow on conveyors, apron feeders, surge bins and silos, according to the company. Furthermore, the technology can be used for anti-collision eg on bucketwheel excavators, stackers and reclaimers. iReclaimer, for example, yields typically 5-10% extra productivity, allowing a return of investment of much less than a year, besides offering process automation and safety benefits, indurad says.

Deploying the indurad iStockpile solution enables advanced stockyard automation and provides significant benefits for clients by using a reliable, volumetric scan of the entire stockpile area. Not only can production planning with live stockpile capacity be enhanced, the total capacity of the stockpile can also be maximised.

Monitoring the performance of drawpoint feeders (level and volume over each feeder/line) and identifying the problem areas are other advantages for indurad clients. With the help of indurad solutions, stockyard operators can use real-time volume data to plan shutdowns and minimise impacts on production, the company says.

The radar hardware and software solutions developed by indurad enable significant process optimisation in rough environments, which traditional sensor technology is not built for. With the indurad solutions, potential can be unlocked in every mining, processing and stockpile operation across the resources industry, the company says. The 2D and 3D iSDR technology has a high impact on safety, process and inventory control, with the radar measuring principle allowing for high accuracy, while being immune to environmental influences like dust, rain, fog or snow. The indurad 3D iDome Solution has already been installed on multiple copper and gold domes in Chile and Canada, the company says.

indurad enables the introduction of a comprehensive stockpile management system by integrating the iStacker and iReclaimer solutions with the iStockpile system. Rothschuh points out: “The major advantage of the indurad approach lies in the real-time measurement of the precise location of the deposited and reclaimed material as opposed to statistical modelling of where the material should have been deposited.”

indurad plays a pioneering role in the development of innovative products in the fields of 3D inventory control, machine positioning, advanced automation and anti-collision, based on proprietary hardware, software and engineering.

Deploying the indurad iStockpile solution enables advanced stacker and reclaimer control, overall stockyard automation and provides significant benefits for clients by using a reliable, volumetric 3D scan.

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